Confit de Canard

confit de canard - trustinkim

Duck confit is one of my favourite special dinners. Locally I am lucky enough to eat at Les Faux Bourgeois once in a while – so tempting since it is mere blocks from my home in Vancouver. When I’ve been to France I’ve brought home cans of confit de canard to enjoy with friends. When I was in the Périgord region of France a few years ago I bought some ready-made confit de canard and cooked it up in an outdoor kitchen ,  along with Potatoes Sarlardaise, and lovely fresh summer vegetables.

Confit de canard is a method of preserving duck in its own fat. After the curing process which makes the meat tender and flavourful, the duck is cooked so that the skin becomes crispy.

When I made this at home recently I prepared four duck legs, figuring that if I’m going to do this multi-step process I might as well make a larger batch. In retrospect I realize that I could have made even more, as they keep well in the freezer. I understand that the confit process and the storage in duck fat is a way of preserving the meat, but I prefer to use it within a week or freeze any legs that are not used in that timeframe, just to be on the safe side.

Now that I’ve made this recipe a number of times I’m not exactly sure what all of my sources were, so I can’t attribute this recipe to anyone in particular. Some recipes call for using thyme instead of bay leaves, which is also delicious. I draw the line at adding juniper berries, because I find the flavour to be unpleasant.

This is a somewhat decadent meal, and best served with a full-bodied red wine, potatoes, a lovely salad or side vegetable, and possibly even a baguette. In the photo it is served with roasted potatoes and a green salad dressed in a light vinaigrette with a little bit of goat cheese crumbled on top – heavenly!

What you need:

  • duck legs
  • plenty of salt (I used Maldon)
  • whole peppercorns
  • bay leaves, fresh or dried, enough to have 2-4 per leg
  • garlic cloves, sliced thinly, enough for half a clove per leg
  • duck fat, enough to cover the legs (olive oil is a substitute if you absolutely can’t get the duck fat)

What you do:

  1. Remove the duck legs from their packaging and lay them on paper towels. Blot the legs dry.
  2. Cut excess skin and fat off the bottom of the legs; reserve it to render the fat. Keep the skin on the top of the leg – when you cook them later the skin will become deliciously crispy.
  3. Sprinkle salt in the bottom of a flat dish, then toss in a few peppercorns and bay leaves. Place the legs, skin side up, on top of the salt. Sprinkle more salt over the legs, then place bay leaves, sliced garlic and peppercorns on top of the legs. Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 110°C (225°F).
  5. Remove the garlic, pepper corns and bay leaves from the duck legs and brush off as much salt as you can.
  6. Place the legs in a single layer in a high-sided oven-proof dish.
  7. On low heat melt the duck fat. Pour the fat over the duck legs. If they are not quite submerged in fat, add some olive oil to top them up. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook for three hours, until the meat is almost falling off the bone.
  8. Allow the legs and fat to come to room temperature to refrigerate until used. The legs can be refrigerated in the fat until they are to be used.
  9. To prepare the legs for your astonishingly awesome dinner, remove the legs from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature so that the fat softens.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Remove the legs from the fat, scraping off excess fat and saving it for later use (such as roasting potatoes or making another batch of confit de canard).
  11. Heat a cast-iron or other oven-proof frying pan on high heat, adding some of the duck fat. Place the legs skin side down in the pan, then place them in the oven for about 15 minutes. By this time they should be easy to turn over, and you can put them back in the oven for about three more minutes.
  12. Bon appetit!
salting confit de canard - trustinkim
salted duck legs with herbs, 24-48 hours
duck legs submerged in duck fat - trustinkim
duck legs submerged in duck fat, waiting to be slow-cooked

Italian Potato Frittata

Italian potato frittata - trustinkim.com

This frittata makes a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner with a salad, and it is also extremely delicious served cold the next day.  I’ve made frittata in the past, but I’m finally happy with how this one turned out – practice makes perfect! It’s quite simple to make, and you can cook it in a frying pan on the stove-top, or you can finish it in the oven.

I used a cast-iron frying pan, but you can use whatever kind of frying pan you have. If you’re going to put it in the oven, make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle. I have read that you can cover a plastic handle with aluminum foil to protect it, but I haven’t tried it myself.

You can put whatever kind of herbs you like in your frittata; I used fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano.

What you need:

  • 500 grams potatoes, sliced or cubed (slice smaller potatoes, cube larger ones)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6-8 eggs
  • fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

What you do:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water for the potatoes.
  2. To prepare the potatoes: If you are using smaller potatoes, slice them about 1 cm thick. For larger potatoes, peel and cube them, about 2cm cubes. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. In the frying pan heat half of the olive oil on medium heat, then fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. Add the herbs, some grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, then beat them in. 
  5. You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan, especially up the sides, so the frittata won’t stick.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the frying pan along with the onions and garlic. Pour the eggs over top, then distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan. With the heat on medium-low, place a lid on the frying pan and let the frittata cook for 6-8 minutes.
  7. At this point, if the frittata is not too liquidy, you can flip it. To do this, loosen the edges with a knife, then place a plate on top of the pan and flip the frittata onto plate. Slip the frittata back into the frying pan and cook without a lid for about 5 minutes. Now… if you don’t want to do this flipping thing, you can simply put it under the broiler for a few minutes – Watch It Carefully! You don’t want it to burn, you just want to firm up the egg until it has just set. No browning necessary; we want the egg to remain tender.
  8. Enjoy it while it’s hot, or allow the frittata to cool, then refrigerate and eat it within a few days.

No-Knead Bread

no-knead bread - trustinkim

I recently paid $9 for a loaf of bread – it was really beautiful, but it didn’t taste like a $9 loaf of bread. But this one sure does! I’d even bump that up to an $11 loaf.

AND . . . it is so easy to make! You just mix up the flour, salt, yeast and sugar the night before and leave it to do its thing The next day you do one more quick step a few hours hours before baking, and in the end you get this beautiful, delicious, and inexpensive bread. It has a thick dark crust, and a moist and tender inside, and the smell as you’re cutting it and taking that first bite is heavenly.

For this recipe you need a lidded baker; the trapped steam helps to develop a crust. I use a Romertopf clay roaster (see special instructions) which helps to create an excellent crust because of the moisture stored in the clay. I have also used a lidded le Creuset pot, but I would imagine you could use a tall cast-iron pan covered with foil… I’ll let you know when I try this out!

What you need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 & 1/3 cups water, room temperature

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir just until it comes together. It will look a bit shaggy, but it’s fine.
  2. Loosely cover the bowl with a lid, plate or plastic wrap and leave in a room temperature spot for 12 to 18 hours. Eighteen-ish hours is preferable, especially if it’s a little cooler in your place. In winter it can be helpful to put the bowl in a warmer spot, like on top of a fridge.
  3. About two hours before baking time, generously flour a tea towel (not a terry cloth one, as the dough sticks too much). Use a spatula to coax the dough out of the bowl, and then use floured hands to gently form it into a loaf, and place it seam-side down onto the floured towel. Sprinkle with a little more flour, then gently place another towel over the top. Allow this to sit for about 2 hours.
  4. About 1/2 an hour before baking turn the oven to 450°F/ 232°C. (If using a Romertopf/clay baker, make sure you have pre-soaked it, and then placed it in the oven BEFORE turning the oven on.)
  5. When the oven is ready gently place the dough, seam side down, into the lidded baker. Use a sharp knife to make a few slashes a few centimetres deep into the top of the bread.
  6. Place the lid on the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. After that time remove the lid and bake for 15-25 minutes. The crust should be dark, and the bread should sound hollow when you tap it.
  7. Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack for about an hour. When it is hot it will be too sticky inside to but, but after an hour there should still be some warmth.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Spanish Tapas-style Blistered Shishito Peppers

shishito peppers - trustinkim.com

A number of years ago I was on a trip to Spain, and I was treated to an amazing tapas feast. We ate so many delicious foods that night, but my favourite by far was the Padrón peppers – blackened, slathered with olive oil, and topped with crunchy salt. They were mildly hot; some were a little warmer than others, but the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I would enjoy these at all, since I’m not fond of green bell peppers, but these are completely different from bell peppers. Yay for trying new things!

When I got home from the trip to Spain I thought I would make these peppers all the time when I had guests, however, limited access to Padrón peppers in Vancouver crushed my dream. I was able to find them once at a Farmer’s Market. I paid a small fortune for them, and they were so hot that no one would eat them! I did eat them because I can be a bit stubborn, but they were not nearly as good as the ones in Spain.

Enter: the Shishito pepper. I found them in Vancouver at a Persian store, and at my local Korean store they are labelled as Twist peppers. They are incredibly similar to Padrón peppers – yay!

What you need:

  • Shishito or Padrón peppers
  • olive oil
  • flaky sea salt

What you do:

  1. Wash and dry the peppers.
  2. Bring a large frying pan (I like cast-iron for this) to high heat. Add a glug of olive oil, then add the peppers. Allow to fry for about one minute before turning; they should be blistered and darkened on the first side.
  3. Fry on the other side for another minute or so.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil, then use your fingers to sprinkle on some sea salt.
  5. Enjoy them while they’re hot! You can always soak up the excess olive oil with some bread.

No-Bake Chocolate Date Nut Brownies

 

date nut brownie - trustinkim

This nutty brownie is a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, raw recipe that also happens to be super tasty. It makes a great energy bar that you can pack for a big bike ride or hike. It contains nuts to give you some protein, and there’s natural sugar in the dates to make it taste good. 

You don’t need an oven, but you will need a food processor for this recipe. It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months.

Just know that it is not your typical brownie that is cakey or gooey. You can find some of those recipes here here, and here.

I halved the recipe when I made it, but here is the full recipe version that comes from theminimalistbaker.com.

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 & 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao 
  • 1-2 tsp espresso powder or finely ground coffee
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Line a cake pan with parchment paper (or loaf pan for 1/2 a recipe)
  2. Place 1 cup of the walnuts along with the almonds in the food processor and process until it is finely ground.
  3. Put the cocoa, espresso powder and sea salt in the processor, then pulse to combine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Process the dates until soft, then remove to a bowl.
  5. Put the nut and cocoa mixture back in the processor, then slowly add the dates through the spout in the top of the processor. Process until it becomes doughy; I had to add a little bit of water. The mixture should come together when you squeeze it.
  6. Place the mixture into the lined cake pan, then add the chopped walnuts. Combine the walnuts with the brownie mixture, then press it down until it is flat.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour before cutting.
  8. Enjoy!

The Best Date Squares

date squares - trustinkim

My mom says these are the best date squares she’s ever had, even better than hers – so that’s all the recommendation I need to give for these. The recipe is from Ricardo’s website, and it is also available en français.

Another name for these is matrimonial cake, or date crumbles. Apparently this is a true Canadian treat!

Using Medjool dates might be one of the factors in the greatness of this recipe, but I also love the buttery goodness of the crumble and crust.

These will keep well if wrapped and stored in the fridge for over a week, or in the freezer for several months. 

What you need for the date filling:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups (625 ml) Medjool dates, lightly packed, pitted and chopped 
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking soda

What you need for the crumble and crust:

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (430 ml) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) baking powder

What you do:

  1. Bring the chopped dates, water, lemon juice and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the baking soda and allow to simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes. The dates should have fallen apart. Mine didn’t really fall apart enough, so I gave them a whizz with my immersion blender. Allow this mixture to cool.
  2. Prepare a square baking pan (20 cm/8 inch) by lining it with a strip of parchment paper; allow the edges to hang over two sides. Butter the exposed sides of the pan. (When I make this again I will also butter the parchment paper to make it easier to remove.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), positioning the rack in the middle.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter using a wooden spoon, then add the oats, flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Stir to combine. You might need to get in there with your hands to make this a little bit easier.
  5. Spread half of the oats mixture into the pan, then add the date mixture. Sprinkle on the rest of the crumble and press it down a little.
  6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack – this will take a number of hours.
  7. When cooled, gently pull up on the parchment paper strips to remove the date squares from the pan.
  8. Enjoy! 

 

Cashew Cilantro Sauce

cashew dressing - trustinkim.com

This pretty green sauce makes an excellent topping for Mexican food. Cilantro and parsley with a hint of lime, combined with the creaminess of cashews makes it irresistible. So far I have used it in a Burrito Bowl (pictured), and it was also delicious on pinto bean and avocado enchiladas. When I was eating my leftovers at work a lot of people were curious about it – but it’s not just a pretty face! So delicious!

I found this recipe in The Plant-Based Foodie: Vancouver by Brad Hill. It is part of a recipe for a burrito bowl, but this dressing was definitely the standout of the dish. The only changes from the original recipe are: I halved the recipe, and I used unrefined sunflower oil rather than grape seed oil. I probably used less parsley and more cilantro than the recipe called for because I’m not the biggest fan of parsley, and also I don’t tend to measure with recipes like this.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil or unrefined sunflower oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

What you do:

  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least an hour, then drain them.
  2. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth. Add a little water if you want it to be a little runnier.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.